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Round 2: Schmitt, St. Louis County continue mask mandate battle

After a judge blocked a previous order, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page moved to implement a new mask mandate for his county earlier this week. And once again, Attorney General Eric Schmitt has filed a legal challenge to block it. 

Schmitt filed a motion to renew and enforce the preliminary injunction already imposed on the previous order requiring masks for all individuals over the age of 5, regardless of vaccination status, while indoors. The attorney general has asked for the preliminary injunction blocking that order to also be applied to the new mandate. 

Page, a Democrat, unveiled a new mandate Monday since a judge said the initial order had expired. A new state law requires health orders to be approved by local legislative bodies in order to be extended past 30 days. 

The latest order mirrors the previous one from July. 

“The county executive’s latest attempt to impose his will on the people of St. Louis County is ridiculous and illegal. After repeated court losses, County Executive Page seems to need another reminder that his attempts to foist a mask mandate on the people of St. Louis County are unlawful, which we will happily provide,” Schmitt, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, said. 

Schmitt’s motion said the county cannot reimpose the same public health mandate since the previous one expired without approval for an extension. 

Page defended the mandate earlier this week, saying, “Masks work in helping to keep our cases from escalating in St. Louis County. Masks help us mitigate the virus while we continue doing all we can to get those who are eligible vaccinated.” 

In the past week, St. Louis County has reported more than 1,200 new cases of COVID-19, and two people have died. About 52 percent of the population has been completely vaccinated against COVID-19. 

“Masks and vaccines protect the health and welfare of our residents and are the best chance to keep our kids in the classroom,” Doug Moore, a spokesperson for the county executive, said.

Additionally, Schmitt filed a motion to compel discovery, alleging Page and Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, have only produced public documentation and no internal reporters, emails, or memos related to the pandemic. Schmitt is seeking a response to his inquiries by Oct. 7. 

“I will continue to lead the fight against local bureaucrats who are solely focused on aggregating, maintaining, and exerting their power,” Schmitt said. “The people of St. Louis are citizens, not subjects.”